Classroom Projector Report: Epson Projectors Commentary
For Epson, we considered the BrightLink 485Wi (click for full review) , which won our Best in Classroom: Interactive Projector award, in this year's Classroom Projector Report. Here, we will take a look at the other BrightLink projectors, some of which we have already reviewed in-depth.
6/7/2012 - Art Feierman
Epson Projectors - A Quick Look
|Epson BrightLink 455Wi||Epson BrightLink 475Wi||Epson BrightLink 480i||
Epson BrightLink 485Wi
What they all have in common:
3LCD technology, closed captioning, network notification, network control, optional wireless networking, remote mousing, short-throw lens, filters (replace after up to 5000 hours), don't have to unmount to change the lamp, 2 year warranty with overnight replacement
With two Best in Classroom Awards under the BrightLink belt, we’re big fans of this series. These well-designed projectors are ideal for classroom and business environments because of their connectivity, interactivity and placement flexibility.
Epson BrightLink 455Wi
We have actually already reviewed the 455Wi projector. Read the full review here. It was also awarded the Best in Classroom: Interactive Projector Award in last year's Classroom Projector Report (the same award another BrightLink, the 485Wi, won this year)!
The Epson BrightLink 455Wi is the least bright of the BrightLink series, and has 2500 lumens instead of the 485Wi’s 3100 lumens. The 455Wi also has a contrast ratio of 2000:1, not 3000:1. The lamp life is also slightly shorter at 2500 hours (versus 3000 hours). The speaker is slightly smaller as well—12.0W instead of 16.0W. The Epson BrightLink 455Wi lacks the HDMI that the 485Wi and the other BrightLink projectors boast.
However, the Epson BrightLink 455Wi does have vertical lens shift, which this year’s 485Wi does not. It’s also slightly more portable at 12.9 lbs. It is also 200 bucks cheaper.
But what do they have in common? Both last year’s 455Wi and this year’s 485Wi are 3LCD widescreen projectors (WXGA 1280x800 resolution). They both have a native aspect ratio of 16:10, produce 35.0db of noise, and have wired networking and interactive capabilities.
Epson BrightLink 475Wi
What makes the 475Wi different from the 485Wi we reviewed this year? For one, the price. The 475Wi costs $1999 (MSRP), and the 485Wi costs $2199 (street price). The Epson BrightLink 475Wi has lower brightness too. It offers 2600 lumens instead of the 485Wi’s 3100. This isn’t enough to make an enormous difference, but if you’re presenting in a bright classroom or conference room, every lumen can count.
Both the BrightLink 475Wi and the 485Wi are 3LCD ultra short throw widescreen projectors with native WXGA resolution (1280x800). Ultra short throw means excellent placement flexibility—they can be placed very close to the screen and still provide a large image, which is advantageous if you’re limited on space. It also means minimal shadows on the screen and you won’t be blinded if you’re up giving a presentation.
The 475Wi and 485Wi have a native aspect ratio of 16:10, a 16.0W speaker that can provide ample sound in your presentation environment, and both weigh in at 13.5 lbs. Both offer a 3000 hour lamp life, video compatibility with component, S-video and composite video, plus HDTV in 720p and 1080i.
BrightLink projectors are known for the connectivity and interactivity, and the 475Wi is no exception. Both the 475Wi and the 485Wi offer wired networking capabilities, plus boast HDMI inputs that are compatible with many outside sources (anything from laptops and gaming consoles to satellite and cable boxes). Both are Mac and Windows compatible. They are highly interactive, coming with two interactive pens. Two pens means that a student and teacher can work on problems together instead of passing the interactive pen back and forth—a plus. The on-board interactive tools let you annotate over video signals like HDMI and composite without installing any additional software, but if you install the software you can actually save your annotations! Very cool.
Epson BrightLink 480i
The only major difference? Well, it’s apparent in the name—the 480i lacks the “W” of the 485Wi projector. The W stands for widescreen, as the 485Wi has a native WXGA resolution (1280x800), whereas the 480i is not widescreen and has XGA (1024x768) resolution. This resolution change accounts for the $200 difference in price between the two, with the 480i running at $1999 instead of $2199 like its widescreen sibling.
Aside from an undetectable difference in brightness (the 480i has 3000 lumens compared to the 485Wi’s 3100), the two projectors are identical in all other regards. They are both 3LCD projectors with contrast ratios of 3000:1, native aspect ratios of 16:10, and 3000-hour lamp lives. Both also boast a 16.0W speaker, which is great if your presentations require sound.
What we love about the BrightLink series is their flexibility. The 480i is relatively portable at 13.5 lbs., so you can move it from room to room in the office easily. Also, if your classroom is small or your conference room oddly shaped, the 480i has you covered. The ultra short throw lens allows you to place the 480i about a foot away from your screen. This is a space saver, plus it limits shadows on the screen if you’re up in front of a group presenting!
Additionally, the 480i has versatile mounting options. You can ceiling mount to project onto a wall, or even set it on a table and turn the tabletop surface into an interactive area. And with features such as blackboard mode that allow it to present on all kinds of surfaces (not just white screens), the 480i is prepared for anything.
The BrightLink 480i, like the rest of its family, has great connectivity. It has wired networking capabilities, supports component, S-video and composite video, and, most excitingly, an HDMI input to connect to your laptop, game console, cable box, etc.
On top of connectivity, the 480i offers interactivity! The BrightLink series projectors all come with 2 interactive pens that allow two people to annotate at once. The software allows you to annotate on content sent over the network, including from an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, camera or Blu-Ray player!
So again, we’re big fans of the BrightLink series. The 480i in particular is great if you don’t need widescreen but want flexibility, interactivity and a great looking picture.